The most famous bronze craft in India is the ancient statue of Nataraja (Lord Siva in dancing posture). But in Kerala bronze (bell metal or gun metal) popularly known as Odu is used for making small and big vessels, lamps etc. Huge wick lamps in different sizes and shapes like theNilavilakku, Thookkuvilakku – hanging lamp, etc are widely used in each and every house.
The Valkannadi (literally tailed mirror) is representative of Lakshmi – the goddess of prosperity. Other pooja articles like the kindi (water container of a particular shape with a sprouting nozzle), uruli (wide shallow cooking vessel), Thattu (plates), etc. are exquisitely crafted in bronze. Most of these are now only available in curio shops as collectors’ items. The originals are pretty expensive. The Malayalee kitchen once almost fully occupied with odu ware are now replaced by stainless steel, aluminium, ceramic and glass ware.
But even today for rituals and religious occasions odu wares are still used. A variety of bronze (Vellodu) is often used for making the uruli and it has more alloy content of lead.
The odu is cast mostly in Northern Kerala. Places like Payyannur and Kunhimangalam in Kannur, Irinjalakuda in Thrissur, Pallippuram in Palakkad – are all in the Northern regions and towards south Aranmula and Mannar in Alappuzha district have several bronze casting units.
Prices vary according to that of the cooking oil, (usually coconut oils), bananas, jack fruits, tapioca, potatoes and so on. Buy this product from Culture Shoppe, the official agency of the Department of Tourism, Government of Kerala to promote Kerala Souvenirs.